What Causes a Gap in Front Teeth?

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Did you know that 50-60% of kids under the age of 5 have a gap between their front teeth? In most cases, a gap in teeth will close on its own by the age of 8 or 9. For parents and patients whose gap teeth do not close naturally, you may be wondering what the cause is of this gap. Can it be fixed? Does it need to be fixed? At Zombek Orthodontics, we’re here to tell you that it is not medically necessary to correct gap teeth with braces in many cases. Many celebrities with gap teeth choose not to change their smiles – and regular people too! So if you love your beautiful gap teeth and there are no other problems present, great! As an orthodontist, we can help you determine whether or not the gap between your front teeth is cause for concern and, if so, what kind of treatment will be most helpful.

So What Causes A Gap In Teeth?

The technical term for a tooth gap is “diastema.” While it can happen anywhere in the mouth, most people think of the gap between the upper two front teeth when they use the phrase “gap teeth.” Gap teeth can result from several different causes. Some of the most common are:

  • Small or missing teeth: Your front two upper teeth, called incisors, are usually your largest front teeth. Sometimes, those teeth don’t develop as full-sized teeth. If the incisors are too small, it can create a gap. If the incisors to each side, called the lateral incisors, are missing, that can also create a gap as the other teeth move apart to occupy the space. 
  • Thumb-sucking or pacifier use: Thumb-sucking is one of the worst habits when it comes to your teeth. It can cause all kinds of issues, including distorting your palate (roof of the mouth), pushing your jaw forward, or causing your teeth to move. This can cause a gap in your front teeth as they are pushed forward by the thumb. Another habit to avoid is “tongue thrusting” — or pressing the tongue forward when you swallow, rather than against the palate. Over time, that forward pressure can move the teeth forward and apart. 
  • Large frenulum: Your frenulum may be enlarged. Wondering what that is? That little piece of tissue connects your upper lip to your gums right in the center. Sometimes, it doesn’t stop growing when it should, and it ends up growing right through the middle of your two front teeth. That causes a gap in your front teeth. 
  • Gum disease: Gum diseases such as gingivitis can cause the gums to become inflamed and loosen from the jaw, which also loosens the teeth. This allows the teeth to move and can form gaps. 

How to Fix Gap Teeth

While it’s not always necessary to “fix” gapped teeth, many patients do ask us how to close a gap in teeth. At Zombek Orthodontics, we offer several treatment options to close a gap between front teeth. 

Braces for Gapped Teeth

At Zombek Orthodontics, we provide self-ligating braces that don’t use elastics, so they’re more comfortable than traditional metal braces. We also recommend LightForce braces (a brand of clear braces) to our patients. LightForce braces are custom-designed based on the unique shape of your tooth, jawline, and facial structure, which creates the perfect fit throughout treatment. Traditional braces typically take 12-24 months, but LightForce braces are designed to provide maximum efficiency. So your treatment may take even less time. 

Gap Teeth Before and After with LightForce Braces


Invisalign clear aligners are another great way to close a gap in your teeth. Invisalign is a popular choice for gapped teeth and other dental issues, such as overbite, crossbite, or underbite. Invisalign treatment can happen in as little as six months, but an average case takes 9-15 months. 

Are you wondering if you’re a good candidate for Invisalign? We can help you find out. 


Other treatments are available for gap teeth, including veneers. Veneers are shells of material that fit over the front of your teeth to provide a more perfect smile. Because they tend to be slightly larger than your teeth, they can fix small gaps in teeth. But veneers aren’t for everyone, and they do have to be replaced after several years of use. 

Dental Bonding

Dental bonding is sometimes used to fix gapped teeth and get a quick result compared to other methods. With dental bonding, your dentist applies a resin to your teeth to fill the gap and uses a special light to harden the resin. The downside of dental bonding is that it isn’t as stain-resistant as your natural teeth or crowns, so you must be careful what you eat and drink. 

Dental Implants

Dental implants might be a good solution if your gap teeth are the result of missing teeth. A dental implant can replace a missing tooth and keep your front teeth from getting a gap. 

Dental Surgery

In a few cases, particularly those with an enlarged frenulum, dental surgery may be necessary to remove a gap between front teeth and keep the gap from returning. Patients may sometimes need a frenectomy to remove the excess frenulum.

Are Teeth Gaps Genetic?

While there are many potential causes for a gap between your teeth, these gaps (like other tooth alignment issues) are genetic in some cases. Gaps can certainly be hereditary. If both parents had a gap between their front teeth, there is a strong chance the child will have one too. 

Beautiful Gap Teeth

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder — and cultural norms can have a lot to do with what we see as beautiful. In some cultures, gapped teeth are actually preferred and seen as a sign of beauty. While it’s not necessarily the traditional standard in the United States, there are many celebrities who have embraced the gap between their teeth. If no other dental issues are present, gapped teeth may not need treatment. Absent other issues, it’s purely a cosmetic choice.

Thinking About Braces for Gap Teeth?

If you live in the Weston, FL, or Hollywood, FL area, contact Zombek Orthodontics for a consultation. We will help you determine whether gapped teeth are something that “needs” to be treated in your case and talk through which options would work best for you or your child.

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